What Would Nietzsche Do?
Thinker’s Bio: Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a German philosopher who shocked and inspired others by criticizing modern society, and those who chose to conform to it. He was one of the youngest philosophers ever to be offered tenure at a university, and wrote more than fifteen books on topics such as morality, politics and art.
By 19th century standards, Friedrich Nietzsche was definitely considered a rebel and it wasn’t just because of his crazy hair and wild mustache. While watching his fellow citizens live routine, boring lives, Nietzsche dreamed of the appearance of a “Superman” (yes, he came up with the idea, long before the comic book). In his philosophy, an “ideal” person wasn’t afraid to be creative, adventurous and unique. The best kind of human didn’t base his or her decisions on what everyone else chose, and didn’t blame others for his or her mistakes. He or she simply did everything possible to be 100% themselves, even if it meant putting up with a little ridicule from people who were afraid to break away from convention.
What Nietzsche hoped was that people would treat their lives as works of art, creating something new and imaginative with each decision they made. This didn’t mean avoiding other people entirely, nor did it mean becoming a tyrant and ordering others around. Nietzsche admitted that being truly original wasn’t as comfortable as doing what everyone else did, but it did make someone a better person, and society as a whole benefited from being populated with better people.
As hard as it was to be a free spirit in Nietzsche’s lifetime, it may be even harder these days. If Nietzsche were alive today, he would probably cringe, but would still insist that people are truly at their best when they think for themselves, instead of following trends and buying into popular opinion.
So what does this mean in our day-to-day lives? Take a few moments every day to evaluate your choices and your actions. Are you wearing what you’re wearing because it reflects who you are or because thousands of other people are wearing it? Are you hiding behind your ipod or cell phone, instead of interacting with other human beings? Are you sticking to what’s comfortable, familiar, and “normal” when you could be breaking new ground and coming up with brilliant ideas?
When all else fails, think of someone you truly admire. It’s likely that their contribution to society stems from thinking just a little outside the box. With just a little effort, all of us can become just a little more “edgy”, in the best way possible.
Until next time, Sapere Aude (Dare to be wise),